Shirting Fabrics

Color is the starting point that gives you a basic idea what kind of shirt this is going to be. If you’re having a patterned shirt made there will be multiple colors to think about, but start by just imagining what overall color impression you want people to get at first glance. Ask yourself these questions:

  •      What role is this shirt going to play? Is it a business staple, something flashy for the evening; a subdued casual shirt? Does the color you’ve chosen reflect that?
  •      Are there settings where the color you want won’t be appropriate?
  •      Does the color work well with your complexion?


Textures and Luxury

How fine the shirt is and how smoothly it drapes over your body can make a huge difference in price. The weight, type, and weave of the threads will all affect how the fabric feels to the touch.

Some shirtings are pure “luxury” fabrics prized for their startlingly smooth texture. Others are very practical, heavy cloths made to endure wear and tear. You’ll need to decide what you want from the fabric of your shirt:

  •      How exotic do you really want to feel? Should the shirt be silky-smooth against your skin, or just comfortably breathable?
  •      How much wear is the shirt going to get? Are you wearing it for a few hours in the evening once in a while, or for eight hour days every week?
  •      Is an exotic texture going to be worth special care, or do you want something you can launder in bulk loads?


Certain shirtings may have exotic properties or origins that raise their cost significantly. This could be anything from the source of the fiber — a strain of cotton with a very small growing area, say — to high manufacturing standards in the country of origin.


If you’re considering a particularly rare kind of cloth be sure you know what you’re buying and why:

  •      What unique properties are you getting for your money?
  •      Is the cloth going to require special washing/storage care?
  •      Are you comfortable with the origins of the fabric?

Types of Weaves

The way the threads are physically interlaced is what gives a particular kind of cloth its own unique texture. This is a big part of why a dozen plain white cotton shirts might have a dozen different feels to them.

Understanding the different weaves and what characteristics they give a fabric lets you choose the construction that suits your needs best. Familiarize yourself with the options and then decide what you need:

  •      Do you want a textured weave or one that looks smooth and solid?
  •      Will you want your shirt to keep your warm or help your skin stay cool?
  •      Do you want a single type of thread, or a weave that blends multiple kinds for visual or textural effect?


Each combination of weave and material is its own distinct fabric. We can talk about them one by one or in broad categories based on the type of thread used. When you’re choosing your shirting you should know the basic properties of all the common materials that might be used: